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The Difficult by Stan Dragland

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The Difficult was at first a footnote to an essay on Lisa Moore's novel, February. I was defending that novel against an absurd charge that it was anti-feminist. That quite accessible novel had been so superficially and insensitively read that I began to wonder how any such reader could begin to cope with more challenging books. From the essay on February, that was too great a detour, certainly for the book (Strangers & Others: Newfoundland Essays) it appeared in, so I cut it. I let the subject of reading and writing about difficult texts lie for a few years, went on to other projects, until I found myself talking to Jack Davis, a former student and Pedlar Press poet, about hatchet reviewing in this country. I mentioned to Jack that I had written something on the subject of reviewing and could send it to him, if he was interested. He was. To refresh myself on what I'd said, I read it over, began to revise and expand. That's how I got back into the subject. Many interesting things happened while writing this book. My friend Phil Hall sent me a poem, for example. That got me thinking back over my long readership of his work, which led me to write a new section of what was now becoming a book. This section includes ruminations on the career of Red Skelton, the televangelism of Joel Osteen, the journalism of Andrew O'Hagan and other things. In other words, the section swings widely (as do other sections) between disparate but related subjects. Thinking about my "method" caused me to coin the word "meanderthal" for what I do. Other chance encounters with various texts provoked like meanders."

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Pedlar Press; First edition (Oct. 17 2019)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g


Stan Dragland is originally from Alberta and now lives in St. John's, Newfoundland. He is Professor Emeritus, Department of English, Western University. He has taught creative writing at the Banff Centre and at Los Parronales, Chile. He was founder of Brick magazine and Brick Books, a poetry publishing house. Between 1994 and 1997, he was poetry editor for McClelland & Stewart. Peckertracks (1979) was shortlisted for the Books in Canada First Novel Award; Floating Voice: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Literature of Treaty 9 (1994) won the Gabrielle Roy Prize for Canadian literary criticism: 12 Bars (2002) was co-winner of the bp Nichol Chapbook Award; Apocrypha: Further Journeys (2003) won the Newfoundland and Labrador Rogers Cable Award for nonfiction; Stormy Weather: Foursomes (2005) was shortlisted for the E.J. Pratt Poetry Award. Strangers & Others: Newfoundland Essays (2015) was shortlisted for the BMO Winterset Award). SD has also published Journeys Through Bookland and other Passages (1984) and The Bees of the Invisible: Essays in Contemporary English Canadian Writing (1991). 2008 saw the publication of The Drowned Lands, a novel. Deep Too, a prose oddity, appeared in 2013. The Bricoleur and His Sentences was published in 2014, Strangers & Others 2: The Great Eastern in 2016, and Gerald Squires in 2017.